It finally happened. After 364 days of grueling anticipation, my son finally celebrated his 10th birthday! He found out last month, by accident, that he was going to get a hamster from my Mom and Dad. He begged us all to let him just get it “early”, but we all stuck to our guns. The actual word “hamster” was banned in our house, lest this year’s entire birthday be canceled. Oh yes, it went to that level. So when my Dad left work early to drive he, my Mom, and Dylan to the pet store yesterday to pick out the lucky gal or guy, I was most excited that I didn’t have to almost cancel his 10th birthday anymore. Dylan came home with “Flash“, the newest male member of our family….and the most galvanizing creature to Erin, the Honey Badger.
Let me interject a bit about our track record with pets. (Not dogs, we have a good track record with those.)
When it comes to amphibians, we are 0-2. (Flash may stand a chance by default, just because he is NOT an amphibian. This is what we are banking on, anyway.) First there was Robbie, the turtle. Oh, how I loved Robbie. I just couldn’t snuggle with him and kiss him. One must assume all turtles have salmonella. So, from the moment we rescued him from the giant water tank at the surf store in Myrtle Beach, I was adamant that no one touch him. Poor Robbie. What a lonely life he led. He grew and grew. He played Hide ‘n Seek a few times, slipping out of his tank somehow, once hiding under my bed and another time hiding in Dylan’s pajama drawer. Luckily, we always found him and scrubbed ourselves ridiculously clean afterwards. Sean was in charge of cleaning out the tank, and I was in charge of asking him incessantly if he touched anything that may have touched Robbie that may have touched the tank, etc, etc. Finally, we grew weary of the ritual. To be honest, I think I’m the only one that *really* liked (ok, loved) Robbie. Sean had to talk me into reality, and I reluctantly agreed. He then pitched a pretty impressive, yet subtle, plea to Dylan: We raised Robbie from birth (practically) and now, he was a grown man (the turtle, not Dylan). It was time for us to do the right thing: Set him free. We’re keepin’ the man (turtle) down. We decided, as a family, the time to respectfully part ways would be on our way to Florida for summer vacation. I envisioned setting Robbie free somewhere along the backwoods of Alabama, where there was plenty of green, lush forest and rolling, clean waters. My husband envisioned gently tossing him out the window. I can’t confirm this; it’s just a hunch. Like any turtle on a road trip, Robbie was in a Tupperware container on the floor of the van, practically riding shotgun, not quite riding bitch. It was pretty small and he couldn’t quite see out of it, compared to his vast, glass tank that he called home most of his life. Unexpectedly, it started to smell really, really bad. Then, it started to smell really, really, really, REALLY, bad. Robbie was in his own urine and feces. We were in the McDonald’s drive thru, somewhere in Alabama, when it became….an issue. Sean and I looked at each other and silently said, “It’s time”. There was an apartment building nearby, some vacant stores, a dumpster, some dirty water, and a patch of about 10 trees. We looked at each other and nodded. It was perfect. To Dylan, “Hey buddy, this looks like a GREAT place for Robbie. I think he’s really wanting to strike out on his own.” Dylan wasn’t emotionally prepared for this to be “the moment” to let Robbie free, but the odor in the van was unbearable. It was definitely time. Dylan put on a brave face and I let Sean handle this one. (You’re welcome, Sean.) They meandered down to the trees: Sean, Dylan, Robbie. I saw them let Robbie go, and then they were out of my view. They were gone several, long minutes. I had my phone in hand, ready to speed dial 911. It was just that kind of atmosphere. They finally came back to the car, and we all had a moment of silence. There was a creek back there, it turns out, and Robbie leaped for joy. Strike out on his own, he damn well did. We wish him lots of love wherever he is (heaven) at this moment. Present or future, may you always R.I.P., Robbie.
And then there was Tony, the Toad. We found him in our yard. We set him up in a similar pad to that of Robbie. They were neighbors on Dylan’s dresser, back in the gold ol’ days. I sure did like Tony. We all did. That’s what makes this whole situation so sad. Tony ate live crickets. So, you can imagine what a pain in the ass it was to head to the pet store on a regular basis to buy live crickets. Well, one time we forgot. Just that one time. That’s all I can say about Tony because the rest is Top Secret. As far as YOU, or Dylan, or anyone else is concerned, Tony ran away. And, we know this, because there was a recent Tony sighting in our yard, and we reassured Dylan that Tony was just checking in to show what a grand life he was living and that he was relaying to him how super happy he was/is.
So, now there’s Flash. As I said, Flash has A LOT going for him – he’s not a frog or a turtle! But, I do foresee a very small (3 feet, to be exact) threat. I’ll just come right out and say it: Repeated exposure to the Honey Badger COULD possibly result in peril. Her face constantly pressed up against his cage should be enough to frighten the living daylights out of him. Or, it could be the way that she talks about wanting to hold him non-stop. When she does get to hold him, she “opposite of gently” handles him so that his eyes almost pop out, despite our numerous attempts to help her be careful. Just like Lennie, she has all the best intentions. She LOVES Flash!! She thinks about him day and night and every moment in between! She has been restricted from her brother’s room unless he is in there, or an adult. We found her in there all by herself today and it was a very, very scary moment. Oh, how she loves Flash. SHE LOVES THE SHIT OUTTA HIM!!!!!!!! Quite literally. But, we are teaching her that you can love from afar. Like the examples below! I will leave you with those, and our very sincere reassurance that we are doing everything possible to save Flash’s life every moment of every day! 🙂